Airmen from across bases controlled by Barksdale-based Air Force Global Strike Command have started arriving in the Ark-La-Tex to take part in the concluding events of this year’s second annual Global Strike Challenge.

Representatives of the far-flung competing team members, who eventually will number almost 500, come from Global Strike Command, Air Combat Command and the Air Force Reserve Component of the forces that operate the nation’s bombers and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

It all kicks off today at the Shreveport Convention Center with Air Force Global Strike Command head Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski presiding over the return of the Fairchild, Blanchard and other trophies earned by competitors last November. Those will be given to new recipients Wednesday in a festive ceremony in Hoban Hall at Barksdale Air Force Base.

Events at the Center also start the Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium, co-sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center, which continues Tuesday and Wednesday, with a full schedule of speakers and panels. Details are available at the website http://cyberinnovationcenter.org/symposium.

The competitors started to arrive Sunday via military airlift and will conclude with the grand finale score-posting celebrations on Barksdale Tuesday and Wednesday, the Tuesday night events military-only, the Wednesday ones open to press coverage.

“The arrivals serve as a kick-off event showcasing the camaraderie, esprit de corps and competitive spirit the competition generates within the Air Force’s newest command,” a release from Air Force Global Strike Command said.

Team participants include bomber aircrew, maintenance and security forces teams from Barksdale; Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.; Minot Air Force Base, N.D.; Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; and Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. They also include missile crew, maintenance, helicopter and security forces teams from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont; Minot; and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. There are also two Air National Guard units, from North Dakota and Missouri, taking part.

In addition to friendly competition that began months ago, Global Strike Challenge events allow the elite competitors and conference participants to exchange ideas about the Air Force’s nuclear and global strike mission areas, the release said.

The Hoban Hall awards ceremonies offer public recognition of superior technical and weapons system expertise with gala trophy presentations, which the service calls score-postings.

Top trophies the competitors are after are the Fairchild Trophy and the Blanchard Trophy.

The Fairchild Trophy was named for Gen. Muir S. Fairchild, former U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, and has been awarded at every “bomb comp” since 1951. The trophy, which was donated by Hughes Aircraft Corporation, is awarded to the best bomber unit in the combined fields of navigation and bombing. It was designed to be a perpetual traveling legacy trophy and was surrendered each year during the award ceremony. The trophy bears the names of every unit that has earned the award.

The Blanchard Trophy was named after Gen. William H. Blanchard, who at the time of his death on 31 May 1966 also was serving as the U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff. First awarded to the service’s best missile unit in 1967, it also is a perpetual legacy trophy that is surrendered each year during the awards ceremony and bears the names of the units that previously earned the award.

Security Forces compete for the Charlie Fire Team Trophy.

In last year’s competition, the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., was presented the Fairchild Trophy for Best Bomb Wing, while the 90th Missile Wing, from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., took home the Blanchard Trophy for Best ICBM Wing. Whiteman also took home the Charlie Fire Team Trophy for Best Security Forces.